What Have Been The Turning Points In Your Life?

There are times in your life when everything seems to be going one way. Suddenly, things change and end up being completely different. What are those turning points in your life?

One of the more remarkable things about one person’s life is how it unfolds. Often, it doesn’t come about in a linear, straightforward way. Instead, it zigs and zags, sometimes lurching dramatically from one direction to another.

There are several things that might cause these swings.

For instance, particularly early in life, you may just be learning about yourself, what you want and what your dreams and goals are. As you shed the expectations of your parents, your teachers, your friends, and others, you might alter the trajectory of your life, occasionally quite suddenly. You might change your college major, or trade one job for another, as you realize what works for you and what doesn’t.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘What book has had the biggest impact on you?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How do you show thanks?’


Alternately, some changes are forced upon you. There might be some sort of limitation in what you can afford, or where you can live. While at the time these can be uncomfortable or unwelcome, ultimately they might prove to be very meaningful or impactful, even if they are outside your control.

Or maybe you have just needed a change. You did one thing, and learned from it. But now, in order to continue to grow, you need something else, so you make a change.

Whatever the situation, turning points can be impactful, altering even core concepts of who you are or what you are able to achieve. What are some of yours?

Related questions: How have you changed? What makes change possible? Who was your best teacher? Have you had an ‘Aha!’ moment?

Should We Pursue Nuclear Energy?

Nuclear energy , like any other form of energy, has advantages and disadvantages. Do the pros outweigh the cons?

Our knowledge of the workings of atoms and the subatomic particles that make up those atoms marked a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the universe. It also allowed a leap forward in technology, which led to power plants that generate lots of electricity.

Energy that is generated from nuclear reactions has one primary advantage: no carbon emissions are produced. Most of the world’s energy currently comes from burning fossil fuels, which releases carbon into the air. That carbon is now threatening us all in the form of climate change.

Time is growing short to find an alternative form of energy, one that does not pump billions of tons of carbon into the air each year. Nuclear energy is one such possible alternative. (As are solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, and others.)


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘Is technology neutral?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘Freedom or security?’


The drawbacks to nuclear power are, primarily, two-fold.

First, nuclear plants produce radioactive waste, and no one has come up with a satisfactory plan for its disposal. That waste will last for hundreds of years. The current strategy for dealing with it is to put it somewhere that seems to be geologically stable, and far from any human civilizations.

The second danger comes from accidents that produce radioactive fallout. We’ve seen this play out most recently in Japan in 2011, when a tsunami destroyed a nuclear power plant. As a result, radioactive material was released into the surrounding air and ocean.

We have an energy problem. To live a lifestyle that is common in a first world country is energy intensive, and the energy demands of the human population across the world are expected to increase for the foreseeable future. No combination of alternate energy sources can meet our current needs, let alone larger ones.

Should we explore all possibilities, including nuclear? Or are the risks associated too great — even greater than those posed by climate change? Should we pursue nuclear energy?

Related questions: What is keeping us from sustaining the planet? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? How is climate change impacting you?

 

What Technology Most Impacts Your Life?

There is little doubt that technology impacts our lives every single day. It is one of the defining characteristics of the human race. For better or worse, the devices we have constructed have allowed transformative change for how we live, as well as for the planet we live on.

Some technology is obviously good. We have extended life spans, reduced or eliminated diseases, and increased the available food supply.

However, there is a dark side to it, as well. Climate change, species extinction, and overpopulation are the consequences of some of these technological innovations.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘Is technology neutral?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘Freedom or security?’


On a personal level, which inventions or innovations have made the biggest impact on your life? Perhaps a medical advance that saved your life? Eyeglasses that allow you to see clearly? Printing presses that allow for knowledge aggregation? Indoor plumbing to reduce disease and increase comfort? Airplanes that allow you to travel just about anywhere on the surface of the earth? The Internet for pulling together so many different areas of information? Or the smartphone that allows you to bring it with you wherever you go?

What technology most impacts your life? Which one has most negatively impacted your life?

Related questions: What skills have you lost due to technology? What role does technology play in your life? Will technology save us? What new technology do you want? Is technology neutral?

Regarding COVID, What Are You Comfortable With?

As the number of people in the U.S. who are vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus increases, the restrictions put in to place for our safety are being eased. However, the level of risk to be accepted varies from individual to individual. What are you comfortable with?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have announced updated guidelines that suggest people who are fully vaccinated no longer have to wear masks indoors, nor do they have to maintain the standard physical distance that we have been accustomed to over the last year+.

We are all eager to return to our previous lives, including seeing and hugging our loved ones, or attending large events like music concerts and sporting events.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the question ‘Freedom or security?’ Stay tuned for a bonus question, ‘Is technology neutral?’


However, on the same day that the CDC recommended the new guidelines, prominent comedian Bill Maher tested positive for COVID, causing his production team to postpone the taping of his weekly talk show. Maher is fully vaccinated and he does not have any symptoms. But it is clear that as much as we want a return to normal, the danger has not passed yet.

In addition, it is entirely possible that people who are anti-mask or anti-vaccine will take advantage of these new guidelines to avoid wearing a mask even though they are not fully vaccinated.

Therefore, there remains some level of risk, both to us as individuals (even the fully vaccinated ones), as well as to our community.

So what are you comfortable with? No change? Going maskless while outdoors? Outdoor dining? Maskless, indoor groups of vaccinated individuals? Indoor dining? Large groups of people, say, 500 or more?

Related questions: What will be the new normal? Mask or no mask? How do you evaluate risk? How do you want this to change you?

How Can We Be Safe?

Safety is at the heart of a number of today’s most pressing issues. We all want to feel safe, but what does that really mean? Is it even possible to be safe from everything?

There are several different threats facing us, and fear of those threats drive our behavior, from how we speak, to who we vote for, to how we want our taxes allocated.

Some people feel they are not safe on an individual, personal level. For example, someone might be afraid of crime, so they advocate for a larger, more powerful police force to protect them. Alternately, others may fear the police, so they urge law enforcement reform.

Some people fear getting sick, or transmitting the virus to others, so they stay at home, or wear a mask when they go out in order to be safe.

Some threats are more nebulous. Climate change threatens our entire species, but that danger isn’t concrete. How can we safeguard the world from this danger?

Safety is harder to pin down as the threats get more abstract. How to we stay safe from losing our way of life, whether it be from other countries, degrading social or political norms, or zealots or terrorists? Or our own tyrannical government?

What is the best way to ensure that we are all secure and able to prosper? Is it through force, like a powerful military or law enforcement? Is it through a social safety net to protect the weakest or most disadvantaged? A strong set of laws, with a punitive penal system? An armed populace? Collective action, including protests?

How can we be safe?

Related questions:  How do you know who to trust? Where does authority come from? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? What direct experience do you have with law enforcement?